A blog post from Hannah with the help of Rachel Webster, Campbell Price, Irit Narkiss and Emma Horridge At the end of January, a group of staff from across the Museum visited Derby to find out more about how Derby Museums have been working to put people and communities at the heart of their museum. […]
Tonight sees the opening of our latest exhibtion ‘Coral: Something Rich and Strange’ which shows beautiful natural history specimens of coral alongside amazing works of art.
At the front of the exhibition is a crochet coral reef; a satellite from the reef of the Institute for Figuring in California. The reef includes a few pieces created by curatorial staff and volunteers, who may not have fully mastered the art of crochet, but who can now make curly hyperbolic shapes. This reef will grow over the course of the exhibition (which runs until the 16th March 2014) and so there’s plenty of time to join in if you’re interested in promoting coral reef consevation or fancy trying your hand at crochet. The reef also features an area of coral bleaching.
Although reef-building corals are animals, they often have a partner – microscopic, single-celled algae known as zooxanthellae (specifically dinoflagellates in the genus Symbiodinium). The coral povides protection and the zooxanthellae collect energy from the sun by photosynthesis to produce sugars. This sort of life-style is similar to that of the symbiotic relationship between fungi and algae in lichens.
Coral bleaching happens when a coral becomes stressed (e.g. through rising sea temperatures, pollution or high UV) and can expels the algae. As corals are mostly transparent, losing the brown-coloured symbiotic algae reveals the (often) white calcium carbonate structure. As the algae produce sugars which can feed the corals, this bleaching can quickly cause starvation making the corals suceptible to disease and causing the death of patches of the reef.
Last Friday saw the opening of the new temporary exhibition celebrating the life of Alan Turing, and particularly his work at the University of Manchester. As a child, Turing was interested in the natural world including how complex natural patterns can develop (such as Fibonacci sequences in sunflower and pinecone spirals) and he revisited this interest while working with the newly invented computer in Manchester. In 1952, Turing published this work in a paper (The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis) decribing a model showing how these patterns could develop from the interations of two chemicals. The new exhibition combines material used by Turing during his research time in Manchester with objects from the Museum’s extensive natural science collection.
Alan Turing and Life’s Enigma, until 18 Nov 2012